2011-12-18

Hitchens remembered ...

... by Shmuley Boteach. Of all the Hitchens tributes you'll read, this may be one of the most interesting.
We were planning to do another debate on whether the Jews are indeed the chosen people, a topic of particular interest for Hitchens given the discovery that he was Jewish only when his mother revealed it to him in his twenties.

Back and forth we went, trying to find a time that might suit him as he awaited the literal return of the voice he had lost to his treatment against esophageal cancer.

His mother had also told him that she planned to move to Israel where she said Jews were making the desert bloom, a move that was never carried out due to her tragic suicide. I once asked Hitchens on my radio show what, given his mother’s growing attachment to her people, it would have meant to him for her to have lived to see the substantial Jewish intellectual following he would one day amass. He told me that it would have made him very happy to see her proud.

He further shared with me how, amid his passionate atheism, he took pride in his Jewishness due to Jewry’s immense emphasis on learning and scholarship and being the people of the book. ...

Go read the rest. And don't miss Totten.

Phyllis Chesler on Charles Small, Subramanian Swamy

Phyllis Chesler at A7:
I am talking about the Islamic persecution of infidels on every continent—a persecution which is still ongoing; about forced conversions to Islam; and about the genocidal extermination of 80 million Hindus over a period of six centuries (1000-1500 CE).

What I’ve just written is historically true as is Islam’s history of anti-Black racism, slavery, and gender and religious apartheid. Ibn Warraq has a new and very important book just coming out on this very subject. It is titled: Why the West is Best. A Muslim Apostate’s Defense of Liberal Democracy.

But, it is a crime to say any of this. And, it is a crime to suggest that a liberal or constitutional democracy must defend itself against jihadic terrorism.

This is not true only in the Middle East or in Islamic central Asia. It is true in the major and most prestigious universities in the United States. ...

Read it all at the link.

2011-11-07

French Kiss

"L'Amour Plus Forte que l'Haine"
Following the announcement that Islamic prophet Mohammed would be 'guest-editing' an issue of the French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo, all hell broke loose.

Their offices were firebombed, its website taken offline, and huge protests broke out at the weekend.

So how does Charlie Hebdo respond? With the headline "Love is stronger than hate": ...

Go to the BI link for the whole works. Great cover.

Related: Make love, not jihad.

French Magazine Firebombed

Fox:
PARIS – French politicians and Muslim leaders denounced an arson attack early Wednesday that destroyed the offices of a satirical French newspaper after it "invited" the Prophet Muhammad as its guest editor this week.

No one was injured in the fire that started around 1 a.m. in the offices of Charlie Hebdo weekly in eastern Paris, hours before the current issue hit the newsstands.

"Everything will be done to find those behind this attack," said Interior Minister Claude Gueant ...

Time's Bruce Crumley says that the magazine is no free speech martyr. (What, exactly, does it take to be a "free speech martyr" then?)

Jill at Feministe responds:
Again: I agree that Islamophobic antics are “futile and childish;” I agree that they serve absolutely no common good. But they “bait” Muslim people into violence? They just make it too tempting to blow up a building? Nope! You don’t get to use violence in response to rhetoric, no matter how abhorrent the rhetoric.

And you know, the vast majority of Muslim people respond to bigotry by pushing back, or being disgusted, or voicing their disapproval, or being quietly angry, or organizing. It seems more than a little condescending and insulting to suggest that Muslims as a group just can’t help getting all bomb-y when someone pisses them off.

2011-10-26

Lavender Alert

Quick! Somebody call Debbie Schluessel! Only 30 percent of WNBA players are lesbians.

Boy wears pink nail polish; world ends; Fox's Keith Ablow throws hissy fit. The offending picture appeared last spring, but Fox's gender cop Dr. Keith Ablow isn't done yet. You might remember that (in)famous picture with J Crew designer Jenna Lyons painting her son Beckett's toes pink? Well, that right there is what's wrong with this world, Ablow will have you know.

2011-10-10

Anwar al-Awlaki Gets His Virgins

Anwar al-Awlaki (also spelled Aulaqi; Arabic: أنور العولقي‎ Anwar al-‘Awlaqī; April 22, 1971 – September 30, 2011) was a Yemeni-American imam who was an engineer and educator by training. According to U.S. federal government officials, he was a senior talent recruiter and motivator who was involved with planning operations for the Islamist militant group al-Qaeda. His sermons are alleged to have helped motivate at least three attacks inside the United States, and was the first U.S. citizen to be added to a list of persons approved for targeted killing by the Central Intelligence Agency. With a blog, a Facebook page, and many YouTube videos, he had been described as the "bin Laden of the Internet". U.S. President Barack Obama alleged that Awlaki was "the leader of external operations for Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula".


IISS:
Nigel Inkster, a former deputy head of MI6, said Awlaki "was the ideologue of al-Qaeda".


"He was very influential because he able to groom and animate so many," he said. "While everyone else in al-Qaeda was dumbstruck by the Arab Spring, he was the one person able to embrace the tsunami that hit the region."


Armies of Liberation:
AQAP issues message confirming death of Anwar al-Awlaki: Site Intel

Safe copy at Jihadology has link to original post: al-Malāḥim Media presents new statement from al-Qā’idah in the Arabian Peninsula: “Blood of the Martyr, Light and Fire: Statement on the Martyrdom of Shaykh Anwar al-’Awlaqī and his Colleagues”

No mention of al Assiri per @Inteltweet but Sami confirmed dead as well.

“The blood of the sheik (al-Awlaki) and his brothers will not go in vain; there are heroes behind him who do not sleep under oppression, and they will retaliate soon,” the group said. “We and the Americans are at war: we get them and they get us, and the end is for those who are patient – they are the ones who will be victorious.” FOX

Awlaki lived at Yemen house of General People's Congress official Zindani five months before death.
This article says Anwar was living in Sanaa in the house of a GPC member when the National Security transfered him to al Jawf for his own security, but put a transmitter in his car… Anyway this article contradicts the Ahram article, unless the National Security transferred him to Afrag’s house and then he went to visit Okaimi. Update : al Zindani does have a huge farm in Al-Jawf .. it’s about 10 kilometers x 10 kilometers.


Zindani's farm. Also, Awlaki trained Farouk on failed 2009 and 2010 bomb plots.

Long War Journal: AQAP confirms Anwar al Awlaki killed in US drone strike.
Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) has confirmed that Anwar al Awlaki was killed in a US drone strike last month, according to the SITE Intelligence Group. In a statement released to online jihadist forums, AQAP also confirmed the killing of Samir Khan, who edited AQAP's online English publication, Inspire.

AQAP's martyrdom statement references the public debate in the US over the legality of killing Awlaki and Khan, both of whom were American citizens. AQAP says the US government "did not prove the accusation against them, and did not present evidence against them in their unjust laws of their freedom."

The statement, according to a translation provided by SITE, continues: "Where are what they keep talking about regarding freedom, justice, human rights and respect of freedoms?! Was America fed up with it to the point that it contradicted it - and every day it contradicts - these principles that it claims its state is based upon?!"

2011-10-02

American Politics After Iraq

Dr. Andrew Parasiliti of IISS observes:
President Obama can put Iraq in the win column.

He has done exactly what he said he would do four years ago as a presidential candidate. In December, the U.S. will withdraw most or all of its remaining forces from Iraq. Unlike the economy and the Middle East peace talks, Iraq is on course.

But there will be no electoral bounce for Obama on Iraq. Americans are too preoccupied with the dismal state of the economy to much notice or care. ...

Go read the rest at the link. Indeed, matters like employment, taxation, and public education are at the top of the public's list of priorities.

2011-09-28

Happy New Year 5772

I'll be away from posting until this Sunday, due to the Rosh Hashana holiday. I'm looking forward to taking this site to a new level in the coming year, and I'm grateful for your readership.

I've been posting at Dreams Into Lightning on Blogger since April 2004 and at DiL on TypePad since April 2006. Until now, I've mostly duplicated the same content on both sites, but that's changing.

DiL 1 (Blogger) will focus on analysis and viewpoints; DiL 2 (TypePad) will be the place for current news and events.

See you in 5772.

2011-09-27

British Ambassador to Syria Denounces "Big Brother"

Simon Collis minces no words:
I’ve been British Ambassador in Syria for the last four years. Last weekend I decided to start this blog after Syria passed a terrible milestone. The Syrians have now endured six months of unrest and violent suppression of mostly peaceful protests. As they now look towards the next six months with a mixture of uncertainty, fear and hope, I wanted to share some personal impressions about what’s happening. Some thoughts about why it’s happening. And maybe to spark some debate about what comes next and what can be done.

In doing so I am privileged. Because I can. The last six months have shown the Syrians can too. But in doing so, they face censorship, threats and arbitrary arrest.

The Syrian regime doesn’t want you to know that its security forces and the gangs that support them are killing, arresting and abusing mostly peaceful protesters: The UN says over 2,700 people have died in the last six months, some of them under torture in prison. It doesn’t want you to know that it is preventing many from meeting peacefully to discuss reform. It wants you to hear only one version of the truth – its own. ...

2011-09-26

Iranian Nuke: How bad?

Dina Esfandiary at IISS says: Very bad.

Most importantly, it would make the Islamic Republic a great deal bolder in its foreign policy. Iran’s regional aspirations of hegemony would no longer be a matter of trying to appear like a bully, it would be one. And rather than threatening the region with a nuclear weapon, the weapon would give them the confidence to activate their proxies to cause trouble. Americans stirring up trouble in the region? Well, let’s send Hezbollah to nab a few in Lebanon to teach them a lesson. Or better yet, perhaps we can push Hamas to ratchet up their attacks on Israel, send them a few extra rockets and mortars. Memories of the eighties anyone?

Admittedly, this might be more difficult given the changes in the region in the past few months. But it is far from implausible.

An Iranian bomb would be bad for the region. In June, speaking to senior NATO officials, Saudi Prince Turki al-Faisal said that an Iranian bomb would “compel Saudi Arabia … to pursue policies which could lead to untold and possibly dramatic consequences”, something he reiterated at the IISS GSR conference in September. The same is probably true of other states in the region – some have made it clear that an Iranian nuclear device would be an incentive for them to start their own programmes. Although turning to nuclear power does not necessarily mean getting the bomb, national fuel cycles pose a considerable proliferation threat, and increase the likelihood of a regional nuclear cascade.

Finally, an Iranian bomb would deliver a significant blow to the international non-proliferation and disarmament agenda. Iran signed the Non-Proliferation Treaty in 1968 and ratified it two years later. Its programme has since been subject to International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) verification. If the regime decides to get the bomb it will have abandoned the NPT. ...

Read the whole article at the link. And bookmark the IISS homepage for up-to-the minute, thoughtful commentary.

2011-09-22

Two Executions

Eric Olsen at GayPatriot has some thoughts on the Troy Davis execution. His piece is exceptionally lucid and worth reading in full. Don't miss the comments.
Whether he was the one that actually pulled the trigger and shot Police Officer (and former Army Ranger) Mark MacPhail in the face and heart, Troy Davis was definitely in the gaggle of hoodlums that was attacking a homeless man whose cries for help were what Officer MacPhail was responding to when he met his untimely fate. The fact that 22 years of appeals were denied –including one last night that the highest court in the land rejected –leads me to believe that the evidence in its entirety is pretty conclusive…

That being said, I am not a fan of the death penalty when there is no DNA evidence.

And Troy Davis declaring he did not kill Officer McPhail with his dying breath didn’t help me feel better about an execution at the end of a circumstantial evidence case. I just keep telling myself regardless of whether he pulled the trigger…he was kicking the daylights out of a defenseless homeless man. ...

Read the whole thing at the link, and don't miss the comments.

Meanwhile, 'White supremacist gang member Lawrence Russell Brewer was executed Wednesday evening for the infamous dragging death slaying of James Byrd Jr., a black man from East Texas.' Two accomplices, John William King and Shawn Barry, were also convicted.

2011-09-20

Bell Tolls for "Don't Ask"

CNN: 'A minute into the new day, 12:01 a.m., the old "don't ask, don't tell" rule that has been in force since the Clinton administration is gone. In its place is a policy designed to be blind to sexual orientation and that the Pentagon brass insists will maintain the military in fighting trim and have no negative impact on "military readiness, military effectiveness, unit cohesion and recruiting and retention."'

BBC: '"Repeal Day" parties have been organised across the country to mark the victory for gay rights.'

TOI: 'During the long, arduous campaign to repeal "don't ask, don't tell", activists and advocacy groups tended to downplay issues related to post-repeal benefits for civilian partners. "It's not something we've been pushing very hard for yet, but it's obviously going to be the next front in the ongoing battle for equality," said Alex Nicholson, executive director of Servicemembers United.'

Servicemembers United:
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Servicemembers United, the nation’s largest organization of gay and lesbian troops and veterans, celebrated the historic end of the Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell law today with the release of the following statement from its founder and Executive Director, Alexander Nicholson, who was himself honorably discharged early from the U.S. Army because of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell:

“On March 15, 1778 the first American servicemember was drummed out of the military for being gay. Since then, tens of thousands more have had their careers ruined and their lives turned upside down by a succession of anti-gay polices and regulations, culminating in the codification of an anti-gay statute in 1993 with the passage of the Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell law. In all, 14,346 men and women were discharged pursuant Don’t Ask Don’t Tell. But thanks to the persistent hard work of unwavering advocates, especially those who have been directly impacted by this issue, and some courageous politicians over the past six years, Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell is now history. As a result, those who continue to serve can sleep easier tonight knowing that they can no longer be arbitrarily fired because of their sexual orientation. Justice has prevailed and Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell is dead. God bless America.” ...


Nick, aka Colorado Patriot, at GayPatriot:
While I appreciate your gladness on my behalf, please do take a moment today and keep in mind that there were some of us who were serving under DADT without regard for it.

While I am grateful that the era of homosexuality being the military’s business has ended, I am grateful more so for those who, like me, joined the military knowing the score and choosing this rewarding life anyway.

While I welcome those young men and women into the ranks of our military who heretofore had waited the policy out, I am much more proud of those who didn’t require their own terms be met in order to answer the call to serve in the first place. ...

2011-09-15

Enlightenment and Its Discontents


In thus projecting a doctrine of human dignity, Rassvyet [published 1907-1934] did not only confront the Czarist regime and Russian society. It threw down the gauntlet to the Jewish liberals, socialists and assimilationists whose conventional policy was one of apology and self justification, accepting by implication the notion that if the Jews were not ultra-virtuous, not ultra-talented, and not ultra-blessed with ultra-civilized ancestors, they would not be entitled to the ordinary rights enjoyed or striven for by their non-Jewish fellow citizens. They thus openly accepted the double standard which was (and has remained) one of the hallmarks of anti-semitism throughout the world.

Standing alone among the organs of Jewish opinion, the Rassvyet editors applied their extraordinary intellectual resources to warn the Jewish community against the illusion that the "emancipation", which all demanded, would solve the essential Jewish problem. Emancipation had come to progressive Western Europe and what had been achieved? Virulent German anti-semitism, "scientific" Austrian anti-semitism were as alive as ever. Most dramatically of all, its monstrous face had appeared in France precisely in the age of vaunted liberalism: Dreyfus languishing on Devil's Island was a very recent memory. The idea that precisely in Russia, Russia of the pogroms, an emancipatory sun would melt the hearts of the endemic Jew-haters was a snare and an illusion: those who preached it were leading their people to the edge of despair.

- Shmuel Katz. Lone Wolf: A biography of Vladimir (Ze'ev) Jabotinsky.

When the winds of Emancipation began to blow through Europe, Jews were presented with a choice. They could become equal citizens but only by keeping their Jewish identity restricted to private life. Many Jews, understandably eager to break free of generations of persecution, embraced the offer. Judaism was reformed to meet the demands of this civic invisibility, with the German Reform movement leading the way. By instituting a number of significant changes, from translating the Hebrew liturgy into German to celebrating the Jewish Sabbath on Sunday rather than Saturday to abolishing traditional dietary restrictions, Reform leaders hoped to help the Jews become full partners in German life, to be what one Enlightenment thinker would later call "a Jew at home and a man on the street." Significantly, the German Reform movement did not see Jews as a separate nation but rather considered themselves to be "Germans of Mosaic persuasion."

But the Enlightenment strategy of fading out of view was deeply and tragically unsuccessful. Enlightenment and emancipation promised to treat Jews as equal citizens provided they remained invisible as Jews. But what started with eliminating Jewishness from the public square culminated in an attempt to eliminate Jews altogether. The country where Reform was born would also be the country that would condemn the Jews to extermination.

Europe's democratic ideals would leave no room for Jewish identity. On this point, there was little that separated the philosophical ends and ideologies associated with the Right or the Left. Each had a dream of sameness and unity, whether it entailed a fascistic single identity or imagined the dissolution of all identity.

- Natan Sharansky. Defending identity.

In Europe, and not just there, a new kind of politics did seem to be stirring, which sometimes called itself left-wing and sometimes right-wing -- a demagogic politics, irrational, authoritarian, and insanely murderous, a politics of mass mobilization for unachievable ends. Mussolini had embraced the word "totalitarian" to describe his own movement; and "totalitarian" in its stuttery sharp syllables seemed to fit the new kind of politics in each of its versions, right-wing and left-wing alike. The implications did seem fairly obvious. During the whole of the nineteenth century and the first years of the twentieth, a great many enlightened and progressive thinkers had supposed that a main danger, perhaps the principal danger, to modern civilization came from a single political tendency, which was the extreme right, and mostly from a single country, which was Germany, the sworn foe of the French Revolution. But that sort of outlook seemed hopelessly antique by 1950. In the new era, no one doubted that political movements on the extreme right could still make you worry. No one felt much confidence in Germany and its political traditions.

But the midcentury writers saw all too plainly that a danger to civilization had meanwhile cropped up in Russia and among the hard-bitten Stalinists, and among other people, too. The writers worried about the many mush-headed liberals and fellow travelers all over the world who, without being Stalinists themselves, managed to admire the Stalinist enterprise. ...

- Paul Berman. Terror and liberalism.


Cross-posted at DiL - TypePad.

2011-09-13

Middle East at Critical Mass

Turkey's Erdogan says his country is "ready for anything" as Turkey sends three military ships to the eastern Mediterranean to "defend against Israeli vessels". Debka reports that "If Turkish warships encounter an Israeli military ship outside Israel's 12-mile territorial waters, they will advance up to 100 meters from the ship and disable its weapon system."

Meanwhile, Russia says welcome as Iran goes nuclear.

And according to this enigmatic report, an unnamed IDF naval officer violated the territorial waters of an unnamed foreign country, and got a week in an Israeli brig.

Remarks. Via Meadia says that the Middle East is "on the boil", and Belmont Club concurs. Mead:

With the end of the Cold War, history began to return to a “normal” velocity. Countries got frisky; France has fallen in and out with both the United States and Germany several times since 1989. The rise of China and India transforms the international scene in a way that was common before 1945 but rare during the Cold War.

Fernandez oberves: "It bears recalling that the Cold war saw both the 1967 and 1973 Wars. So normal velocity does not necessarily augur good news."

Indeed. Michael Totten's latest report from Cairo explains that

The army and the Islamists have a strange relationship with each other that neither explains or is honest about. The state has viciously repressed the Brotherhood at times while at other times using it as either a sword or a shield against liberals.

Traditionally, Egypt's army and its Islamists have been antagonistic to one another. But what happens if they join forces?

No doubt Washington and Jerusalem prefer to do business with the military instead of the Brotherhood even if the regime was founded in a spirit of Arab Nationalism and Egyptian supremacy. But what if the U.S. and Israel will soon have to contend with both?

2011-09-02

Turkey / Israel Rift

Turkey / Israel rift. MK Dr. Michael Ben-Ari has had it with Turkey, and has called on FM Avidgor Lieberman to declare Turkey an enemy state and send its ambassador packing. Turkey says it will take legal action against Israel and prosecute Israelis for actions taken during the Mavi Marmara raid in May of 2010. Israel says, We're not sorry. Turkey says fine, we don't like you either.

Commentary. Claire Berlinski:

Turkey has announced that it's suspending military agreements with Israel and reducing diplomatic relations to "Second Secretary" level. I read the Palmer Report last night. As far as I know, it hasn't been translated into Turkish. Judith, do you know if it's been translated into Hebrew?

If it hasn't been translated into either language, we can conclude that popular debate about it is taking place among journalists, academics, diplomats, Americans, and on Twitter. It takes even a very fluent reader of English who has followed this story closely since it began about two hours to read it carefully.

All of this could make one quite despairing ...

Follow the Istanbul-dwelling American expat Berlinski for the latest. Here's some info on the Palmer Report:

The much-delayed UN report, by a committee lead by former NZ Prime Minister Sir Geoffrey Palmer, into the deadly Israeli action against a Gaza-bound flotilla on May 31 2010 has been leaked to the New York Times prior to its official release, expected today.

The report find that Israel’s naval blockade of Gaza is legal and appropriate but the force used in the raid was excessive and unreasonable.

Summary

On 31 May 2010 at 4.26 a.m. a flotilla of six vessels was boarded and taken over by Israeli Defense Forces 72 nautical miles from land. The vessels were carrying people and humanitarian supplies. The flotilla had been directed to change course by the Israeli forces who stated that the coast of Gaza was under a naval blockade. Nine passengers lost their lives and many others were wounded as a result of the use of force during the take-over operation by Israeli forces.

The Secretary-General established the Panel of Inquiry on the 31 May 2010 Flotilla Incident on 2 August 2010. ...

Full text of the Palmer Report (pdf).

2011-08-01

Hiatus

It's been a few weeks since I posted anything here. So this post is just to make it official: Yes, I am on a hiatus, and yes, I will be back.

2011-06-17

UN Defends Gay Rights

Times of India:

GENEVA: The top UN human rights body declared on Friday there should be no discrimination or violence against people based on their sexual orientation, a vote Western countries called historic but Islamic states firmly rejected.

The controversial resolution marked the first time that the Human Rights Council recognized the equal rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people, diplomats said.

The text, presented by South Africa, was adopted by 23 countries in favor, 19 against with 3 abstentions and one delegation absent during voting. ...

Read the article at the link.

New York State Senator Roy McDonald on Gay Marriage

Via BuzzFeed:

You get to the point where you evolve in your life where everything isn't black and white, good and bad, and you try to do the right thing,” McDonald, 64, told reporters. “You might not like that. You might be very cynical about that. Well, fuck it, I don't care what you think. I'm trying to do the right thing. ...

And there's more where that came from. Read the rest at the link.

2011-06-13

Sarah Palin

I haven't posted much about Sarah Palin. The main reasons are fairly simple: She doesn't hold national office (or any office at present), and she's not even a candidate for office at the moment. And - notwithstanding Sarah Palin's constant presence in the media - I try to stay focused on people and events that are newsworthy in themselves.

That said, I'll share a few of my own thoughts on the former Governor of Alaska. First: I am not sure that I would vote for her if she were to run for President, but I am sure that I do not believe she is the fool or the fanatic that the press has portrayed her to be.

I do not understand what it is about Sarah Palin that sends the Left and the media into frothing, apoplectic fits of rage - but I have to admit that I like it.

In the kind of liberalism I believe in, there's room for people we agree with but don't admire, and people we admire but don't agree with; and there's even room for people we agree with part of the time and disagree with part of the time. I don't know where the fanaticism of today's so-called "liberals" comes from, but I want no part of it.

So if I say that I think Sarah Palin is a decent, intelligent, competent, hard-working person, who's been treated miserably by the media, and with whom I agree about many things and probably disagree about many others - that is not an endorsement of "Sarah Palin for President". But it is a recognition that there's something about Palin that matters.

2011-06-05

Saleh Leaves Yemen

Without further ado, here's Jane:

After an entire day of contradictory reports on Saleh’s health and whereabouts, the Deputy Minister of Info announced on al Hurra that Saleh and 24 family members are in Saudi Arabia for medical treatment, and presidential power has been transferred to VP al Hadi. I’m assuming the GPC and the four horsemen (may be three now if Tariq is really killed) consider this as a temporary arrangement; where as the protesters see it as the beginning of the end. I’m in shock.

Updates, unofficial and official:

Ali Mohsen submits his resignation to Hadi

NEW JOKEs: SALIH REFUSE TO SIGN FOR SURGERY WITHOUT PRESENCE OF THE OPPOSITION

THEY SAID, ELECTRICITY SHUT OFF IMMEDIATELY IN SAUDI ARABIA AT THE ARRIVAL OF SALIH

Royal Court of KSA issues official communique that Saleh is in SA for medical treatment while some Yemeni officials insist he’s still in Yemen. Bin Ali said to be at Saleh’s reception at the airport.

Alarabyia correspondent reports seeing Saleh walking from the plane, which means not badly injured and odd if he had surgery earlier today

BaFadhl on AJA: Ali AlAnesi, head of Nat Sec, announced formation of an (unconstitutional) military council to cover for Saleh

Taiz under full control of the rev and celebrating with fireworks.

Hadi also in command of the armed forces.

Al Jazeera back in Yemen. ...

And here's Al-J:

Pro-democracy protesters are celebrating what they described as the fall of the Yemeni government after President Ali Abdullah Saleh left the country for medical treatment in Saudi Arabia.

"Today, Yemen is newborn," sang dozens of youths in Sanaa's University Square on Sunday, dubbed "Change Square", which has been the epicentre of anti-government protests that have raged since February.

"This is it, the regime has fallen," others chanted.

In Yemen's second-largest city Taiz, a flashpoint of anti-government demonstrations south of the capital Sanaa, hundreds also celebrated, chanting: "Freedom, freedom, Ali has fled". ...

2011-06-02

Arab Nazis

From the BBC's Sarah Ehrlich:
Farhud memories: Baghdad's 1941 slaughter of the Jews

On 1 June 1941, a Nazi-inspired pogrom erupted in Baghdad, bringing to an end more than two millennia of peaceful existence for the city's Jewish minority. Some Jewish children witnessed the bloodshed, and retain vivid memories 70 years later.

Heskel Haddad, an 11-year-old boy was finishing a festive meal and preparing to celebrate the Jewish festival of Shavuot, oblivious to the angry mob that was about to take over the city.

Thousands of armed Iraqi Muslims were on the rampage, with swords, knives and guns.

The two days of violence that followed have become known as the Farhud (Arabic for "violent dispossession"). About 800 Jews were killed, spelling the end for a Jewish community that dated from the time of Babylon. Only 180 bodies were identified, but the Israeli-based Babylonian Heritage Museum says about another 600 unidentified victims were buried in a mass grave.


Go to the original for the full, horrific details - but also for the stories of brave Arab individuals who did what they could to protect the innocent from the mob.

The BBC piece does not address the long history of anti-Jewish violence in the Arab world prior to the Nazi era. Nevertheless, this article is an important first step. It demolishes the notion that Israel is to blame for Arab Jew-hatred. Also, the article helps to put the Arabic word "Farhud" into circulation. The word needs to be part of the vocabulary of international discourse.

It is important to expose the link between Nazism and Arab anti-Semitism, as this article does. That the Nazis did horrific things to humanity in general and the Jews in particular is well known; "Nazi = evil" is not a controversial statement.

But Nazis are a "safe target". They were white, nominally Christian Europeans acting on a professed ideology of white supremacism; so it's easy to conflate them with the likes of the KKK. Best of all, they lost the war! There is no significant presence of Nazi sympathizers in today's academic or cultural establishments. ('Twasn't always so; but that's another story.) Unlike the Communists, for example - or the Islamists.

Exposing the Nazi-Islamist ties may be the most important thing we can do to disrupt the narrative that paints Israel as the heir to the Nazi mantle.

Nazism is not yet dead in the Middle East.

JPost: Newspaper reports Nazi party forming in Egypt.

A group of Egyptian political activists have announced plans to set up a local version “of the Nazi party,” an Egyptian newspaper reported on Thursday.

Citing a leftist Egyptian news portal, the Al-Masry Al-Youm daily said that “the party’s founding deputy is a former military official,” and that the party would be aimed at bringing “together prominent figures from the Egyptian society.”

The report cited founding member Emad Abdel Sattar as saying that the unestablished party “believes in vesting all powers in the president after selecting him or her carefully,” and that “preparations are under way to choose the most competent person to represent the party.”

Go to the article for full details. But pay special attention to what Mordechai Kedar, of Bar-Ilan University, says about Nazi-inspired groups in the Arab world:

Historically, he said, the German Nazi party saw three attempts to copy it in the Arab world in the 1930s in Lebanon, Iraq and Egypt. The Egyptian party of that time was led by former president Anwar Sadat, who went on to sign a peace treaty with Israel in 1979.

“They were copying the extreme nationalism of Germany, before the Second World War, and before the word ‘Nazi’ became a coarse word,” Kedar said.[My emphasis - aa.]

Strategy Page has more.

This is ironic on many levels. While Arabs love to call Israelis "Nazis", it is the Arab world that is the true heir to the Adolph Hitler's vision of how the world should be. A major weapon in the Arab arsenal is anti-Semitism. For a long time, even before World War II, the racial hatred tactic was particularly popular in the Arab world. This was partly the result of Islamic radicalism, which pushed hatred of all non-Moslems, not just Jews. But as more Jews began moving into Jerusalem and surrounding areas in the late 19th century, more of the Moslem racial animosity was directed at Jews.

2011-05-22

Mead: "Obama Throws Palestine Under the Bus"

Walter Russell Mead has the most interesting - and I'd venture to say the best - analysis of Obama's Mideast speech that I've seen so far. I won't even try to excerpt it; just go read it. And yes, you read that title correctly: "Obama throws Palestine under the bus."

Obama's Speedy Re-Think on 1967

JTA:

President Obama has elaborated upon his call for the 1967 lines to serve as the basis for a Palestinian state's border in an interview with the BBC.

"The basis for negotiations will involve looking at that 1967 border, recognizing that conditions on the ground have changed and there are going to need to be swaps to accommodate the interests of both sides," Obama told the BBC Thursday in an interview following his Middle East policy speech.

“Israel is going to have to feel confident about its security on the West Bank, and that security element is going to be important to the Israelis,” Obama added. “They will not be able to move forward unless they feel that they themselves can defend their territory, particularly given what they’ve seen happen in Gaza and the rockets that have been fired by Hezbollah.”

"Elaborated upon" is one way to put it. Jennifer Rubin at the Washington Post has more. So does Carl at Israel Matzav.

2011-05-20

Obama's Middle East Speech

Jonathan Tobin was among the first to notice tones of neoconservatism in President Obama's speech yesterday:

The president says the United States opposes the use of violence and repression by dictators, supports universal rights including free speech and assembly, freedom of religion, equality of men and women, rule of law and right to choose our own leaders as well as political and economic reform. This is good policy. But wasn’t this the neoconservative policy of George W. Bush that the Democrats used to mock?

Tobin's Commentary colleague Peter Wehner put it more succinctly: "When Obama Became Bush (On Iraq)".

In just a few years, then, Iraq has, for Barack Obama, gone from a strategic disaster to something of a model for the region. His words sound very much like those of President Bush, who told the United Nations in 2003, “Iraq as a dictatorship has great power to destabilize the Middle East. Iraq as a democracy will have great power to inspire the Middle East.”

The fact that Barack Obama is now (belatedly) embracing the views of his predecessor is something to be grateful for. To have a liberal, Democratic president declare that Iraq shows “the promise of a multiethnic, multisectarian democracy” and is “poised to play a key role in the region” is a very good thing for our country and the wider Middle East. And it will help to heal the divisions caused by the war.

The ending of the speech was equally noteworthy - for very different reasons. Obama's call for Israel to withdraw to its 1967 borders brought an immediate "no" from Netanyahu:

Responding to President Barack Obama's major Mideast policy speech, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu says that Israel will not be withdrawing to the 1967 borders as part of a peace deal with the Palestinians.

MK Danny Danon declared that Obama "adopted the phased plan of Yasser Arafat", meaning the destruction of Israel piece by piece. An associate of Netanyahu said Obama "does not understand the reality in the Middle East".

According to Debka,

By rejecting US President Barack Obama's proposal for Israel and its troops to pull back from the West Bank to behind the indefensible 1967 lines, Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu lands in the company of eleven Middle East and North African rulers who spurned Washington's Middle East policy in the six months of the unfolding Arab uprising. Egypt's Hosni Mubarak was the only one to keep faith with Obama and he was pushed out for his pains.


Meanwhile, Marc Tracy at Tablet cites Ha'Aretz in favor of the 1967 solution - and gets pounded in the comments.

Enduring America has a wrapup.

2011-05-19

Morning Report: 2011-05-19

Syria: Bashar Assad under US sanctions. MSNBC: 'The United States slapped sanctions on Syrian President Bashar Assad and six senior Syrian officials for human rights abuses over their brutal crackdown on anti-government protests, for the first time personally penalizing the Syrian leader for actions of his security forces. The White House announced the sanctions Wednesday, a day before President Barack Obama delivers a major speech on the uprisings throughout the Arab world with prominent mentions of Syria. ...' The article adds that 'The sanctions will freeze any assets Assad and the six Syrian government officials have in U.S. jurisdiction and make it illegal for Americans to do business with them. The U.S. had imposed similar sanctions on two of Assad's relatives and another top Syrian official last month but had thus far refrained from going after Assad himself.' Via Ynet, Reuters calls it a "dramatic escalation" of US pressure.

Syrian refugees in Lebanon. BBC:

Thousands of Syrian refugees have fled their homes and are now seeking sanctuary in northern Lebanon.

They say life in the Syrian town of Tal Kalakh has become intolerable because of the violence of the Syrian army and its armed supporters.

"It was raining bullets so we fled immediately," said one middle-aged woman who - like all the refugees - did not want to give her name.

She described how one of her relatives, having started the journey across the border, turned back in order to get her cow.

"She was shot in the head and she was killed." ...

For Syrian troops, Michael Totten has some advice: Don't even think about it.

Three Syrian soldiers tried to defect to Lebanon after shielding fleeing refugees from Bashar al-Assad’s violent Shahiba miltia, but they were promptly arrested by Lebanese army officers and will most likely be sent back to Damascus. “Defecting” from Syria to Lebanon in 2011 is as useless as fleeing Moscow to East Berlin during the Soviet era. Anyone who tries is all but guaranteed to be arrested, will most likely be tortured, and faces the real possibility of being executed.

It’s sad, really. Lebanon, when left to its own devices, is a fairly open place and has acted as a refuge of sorts for writers and dissidents who can’t survive in the Arab world’s closed societies and despotic political systems. ...

Except, of course, that Lebanon is not left to its own devices - as Michael explains in his book The Road to Fatima Gate. Read the rest of Michael's article at Commentary.

Brain-dead UN inspectors leave sensitive equipment unattended in Iran, are surprised at signs that IRI regime thugs may have tried to hack their gear. Geeez, it's almost as if you couldn't trust those guys. Fox:

The U.N. nuclear agency is investigating fears from its experts that their cell phones and lap tops have been hacked into by Iranian officials looking for confidential information.

Diplomats tell The Associated press that the hardware apparently was tampered with while left unattended during inspection tours in the Islamic Republic. ...

Go to the link; in the comments, mindbender2go has a more charitable interpretation of the incident.

Danish film director Lars von Trier: I'm a Nazi. But some of my best friends are Jewish. Fox has the story.

Commentary. SWJ on Al-Qaeda after bin Laden:

Saif al Adel has been named the interim emir of al Qaeda in the wake of Osama bin Laden's demise, according to multiple press reports. Al Adel is a longtime member of al Qaeda's military council and has been wanted by US authorities since the late 1990s, when he was implicated in al Qaeda's attack on two American embassies in Africa. Another lesser known al Qaeda leader, Mustafa al Yemeni, will reportedly direct the group's operations.

US intelligence officials contacted by The Long War Journal caution that it is not entirely clear how the post-bin Laden al Qaeda will be structured. They did not confirm or dispute press reports pointing to al Adel's and al Yemeni's new roles.

Al Adel's relationship with Iran will undoubtedly garner more attention now that he has reportedly assumed, at least temporarily, one of al Qaeda's top roles. ...